The legislature's Transportation Committee has a lot of tough choices ahead this session. They'll be working with a new DOT Commissioner, Joseph Giulietti, whose previous job was leading Metro North amid a series of crises. The group held an organizational meeting this week.
Wilton Senator Will Haskell says he views that as a good sign for the direction of the agency. In order to build a state that's exciting for young people and for businesses, Haskell says they have to think strategically about transportation. His top priority on the committee is to improve Metro North, including the Danbury branch line. Haskell's district includes Ridgefield, Redding and part of Bethel as well.
There will be a number of bills coming before the Committee this year which could have an impact on people's wallets. Whether the group pursues tolling for trucks, tolling all vehicles or reducing the gas tax, members have their work cut out for them. Among them is Danbury Senator Julie Kushner, who campaigned against tolls. The freshman lawmaker is a recently retired union organizer who told colleagues that she's traveled to Hartford for the last 25 years on I-84 and has a pretty good understanding of the challenges facing the state.
Haskell and Kushner are two of the new faces on the Committee. Wilton Representative Gail Laveille won reelection and held onto her committee assignment. She wants to advocate for the issues important to Fairfield County. One of the strongest advocates for tolls, former chairman Representative Antonio Guerrera, is no longer in the legislature.